Baked whole fish with hot, sweet & sour sauce


I was so excited to find a whole grouper on the fish slab that I bought it. Advised by my fellow Chinese-American shopper to cut off its head and tail, I took it home duly mutilated, and then wished I hadn’t, as I decided to bake it rather than steam it (plan A). Once we spat out the bones, the flesh was delicious. Next time I will buy two fish so that we each get to do our own surgery! Thanks Rick Stein for this recipe.

Baked whole fish with hot, sweet and sour sauce

1 or 2 small white fish such as sea bass, bream, grouper, etc
30 ml fish sauce
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
25 g shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 chillies, thinly sliced with or without seeds
25 g palm sugar
1 tbsp tamarind pulp

Preheat oven to 220 C. Make three slashes in both sides of the fish (you can leave head and tail on or off as you prefer), place into a shallow roasting dish and cover with the fish sauce and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Leave to marinate.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and stir fry shallots until crisp and golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll. Add the garlic, and stir fry until crisp and golden, add to shallots. Ditto the chilli – be careful not to burn any of the ingredients. Have the extractor on!

Drain the fish sauce from the fish into a small saucepan. Add the tamarind and the palm sugar. Add 2-3 tbsp of water and bring to the boil, Let it simmer until it has reduced to a thick sauce. Strain if necessary and set aside.

Now put the fish in the oven and roast for 12-15 minutes or until it is cooked (check the thickest part of the fish, behind the head). Remove on to a serving dish. I put mine onto some stir fried rice noodles with kang kong (morning glory).

Reheat the sauce, add half the shallots, garlic and chilli and pour it over the fish. Scatter the remaining shallot mix over the fish et voila!

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